Up until 2011 the local community was losing up to 463 acres of crops per year due to wildlife coming into their farms mostly at night and raiding their crops. Mostly Elephant and buffalo but also Zebra and eland were the culprits. The planting to harvesting period is between the months of November through to May or June.
The Enduimet WMA is bordered by agricultural communities that live and farm on the slopes of Kilimanjaro; these communities are growing their staple crops mainly being beans and maize. At night wildlife take the opportunity of darkness and come into the farms and can sometime eat of 80% of a households crops in one night. Waking up in the morning to find your food security has been removed in one night is a nightmare most of us never want to go through. Despite this, the communities are still very understandable of the needs of wildlife however the need to protect ones family is paramount. In 2011 three elephant were killed do to crop raiding and farmers’ retaliation.
The Enduimet WMA together with their partners Big Life Foundation started a number of strategies to reduce this impact on the farmers; the reasoning behind was twofold, primarily to improve food security but also to achieve the necessary buy in from the local communities to commit to conservation the Enduimet WMA needed to respond to the communities call for help where it was needed. A vehicle was committed to the area during the period that would be able to respond to the farmers call when their crops were being raided by elephant and buffalo. A small chilli grenade was developed; this small explosive wrapped in chilli powder was distributed to the farmers, when wildlife entered the farms the farmers could throw the grenade at the animals which would persuade them to move on. Elephant in particular do not like chilli powder. These two strategies were use at the end of 2011 and through to 2012 and helped reduced crop damage by 70% with the total damage by the end of the crop season in 2012 being only 122 acres.
Efforts continue by the Enduimet WMA and the partners to continue to look for innovative ways to reduce crop damage and therefore to get the support of these farming communities to engage in conservation. A farmer who has had his crops protected by the Enduimet WMA is more likely to provide information on any illegal poaching activities and help the rangers to thwart any poaching actions.